If you’re planning to plant edibles in your garden with the idea that you’ll be putting food on the family’s dinner plates, picking things that the children are more likely to eat will help ensure success.
While it’s unlikely you will get a 100% strike rate with all members of the family devouring everything you choose to grow, some edibles are more likely to be enjoyed.
Deciding what to grow is a balancing act between what will actually be eaten, how much space you have, and where in the country you are as some plants do better in different climates. Growing things that the children can help plant, care for and harvest, will also increase your chances of them eating it – even while they are still in the garden.
Here are are some of our tried and true favourites – but YMMV!
The most popular legumes for family meals are green beans, peas and snow peas. They will need some staking but they are resistant to bugs though they do need protecting from slugs, especially when young.
Growing carrots at home that look like the ones you get in the bag at the supermarket requires light, lump free soil. Choose a slim variety and consider harvesting them at the baby carrot stage when they are sweet and tender and can be eaten without peeling.
Spinach has a milder flavour than silverbeet so is more family friendly. Perpetual spinach allows you to harvest regularly from the same plant and means a great yield from a small space.
A fantastic way to turn a sunny but difficult space into a productive area, the pumpkin plant only requires a small root space and then roams happily over the ground, over the compost heap, or even along a fence. They are hungry so will benefit from the addition of some compost or sheep pellets.
Growing potatoes can take up a lot of room if you only have a small garden but don’t be deterred as they grow happily anywhere where you can pile the dirt up around the stem as you go – a bucket, tall pot, or even a pile of tyres – just make sure there are drainage holes.
Courgettes are possibly a more contentious choice as not many kids like them, but they are excellent for grating and hiding in meals! You could even stuff the flower. Easy to grow in a sunny spot, one or two plants will provide a good crop.
7. Cherry tomatoes
Although cherry tomatoes are like a fruit they are usually classified as veges, but whatever the category they are an excellent addition to your garden and dinner plate. A wee burst of sunshine in your mouth, they will need to be supported by stakes or a trellis system, can be grown in pots, and like plenty of water.
8. Broccolini / Baby broccoli
A cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli, broccolini produces florets on long edible stems that are sweeter than broccoli. These are great as you can harvest florets over a period of time as the plant keeps producing for months. Happy in cooler climates.
Homegrown warm-from-the-sun strawberries are delicious! They will need protecting from birds and give them a blanket of straw around each plant for the heavy fruit to ripen on. The are hungry so feed and water them and they will reward you with sweet, tasty fruit.
Mandarins are great as they will provide you with fruit during the winter. If you are in a frost-prone area you will need to protect your mandarin tree and make sure you plant it in a warm spot. Choose a seedless and easy-peel variety. One important tip – keep away from lemons as cross pollination will mean your seedless mandarins will develop seeds!
Grapes don’t require much work for lots of fruit year after year. Choose a pipless and disease-resistant variety.
4. Black passionfruit
Black passionfruit need a long warm summer and autumn for all the fruit to ripen so are best grown in the north of both main islands but one plant can produce a fantastic crop.
1. Edible flowers
Having some edible flowers scattered over a salad or dessert may entice children to at least try a bit. Nasturtium, viola, and pansy are easy to grow and very hardy.
2. Popping corn
Did you know you can grow popping corn?! It’s a bit labour intensive in that you have to grow, then harvest, dry, and finally pop but the popping corn varieties are generally very colourful and the reward of finally eating your very own popcorn is huge! To purchase, just Google for New Zealand suppliers.
Written by Robyn
Robyn creates content on Kidspot NZ. Her hobbies include buying cleaning products and wondering why things don’t then clean themselves, eating cheese scones with her friends, and taking her kids to appointments.